D-Day 75 years on: a paradoxical commemoration

Numerous heads of state and government gathered on Wednesday in the southern English town of Portsmouth to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Allies' landing in Normandy. Trump, May, Macron and Merkel jointly commemorated the military operation that marked a turning point in World War II. In view of the current tensions among Western states the commemoration of the Allies' former unity strikes some commentators as somewhat paradoxical.

Open/close all quotes
Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Hitler would have beaten today's Allies

For the Frankfurter Rundschau the commemorations have never been as devoid of meaning as they are now, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day:

“Where are those who campaign for the joint battle for the good cause now? Donald Trump is fuelling a new wave of nationalism around the world. He has shown a level of animosity that is unprecedented in a US president towards the free Europe for whose freedom many of his compatriots fought and died in 1944. ... From the day she took office to her pitiful resignation announcement, Theresa May concentrated on nothing else but a new separation of her country from the rest of the EU. In Washington as in London the trend is moving towards going it alone and withdrawing from the world. ... If such thinking had dominated in Washington and London 75 years ago, Hitler would have won.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Reversal of roles in the Western world

Germany is now the sole guarantor of the values that the Western Allies fought for as the basis for the postwar order in Europe, The Guardian observes:

“On the very first anniversary of D-day in 1945, with the war barely won, Eisenhower addressed a cheering crowd in London. ... And he urged that the bonds between nations - 'into which scope must be brought Russia, France, China and all the other great countries' – should never be broken. It is one of the perversities of history that today, 75 years after D-day, it is the German chancellor, not the US president or the British prime minister, who stands for the values that Eisenhower proclaimed all those years ago, and for which the soldiers stormed the beaches in 1944.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Our forefathers' sacrifices are our good fortune

Chantal Delsol, professor emeritus in political philosophy, underlines in Le Figaro the true meaning of such ceremonies:

“The sole goal of commemorations is to draw people's attention to the fact that our greatness, our joy and good fortune were attained at the price of much unhappiness and tragedy. That our liberty was wrested from the demons of servitude, and our peace from those infatuated with violence. That all these things haven't simply been given to us by fate but were purchased with the blood of altruistic ancestors. The memory of the longest day reminds us that human existence is tragic and that all that is wonderful, far from having been secured for good, must be earned again and again.”

El País (ES) /

Europe needs its own armed forces

Seventy-five years after D-Day on 6 June 1944 a very different wind is blowing across Europe, El País observes:

“Since the American soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy the presence of the US military has guaranteed the security of the European democracies. But this concept has been called into question at a time when the international situation is particularly unstable. The military autonomy of Europe is no longer just a theoretical option but is now at the very least desirable and perhaps even necessary.”